The following was originally posted in "A Study in the Psalms" as part of Soma Spokane's Psalm's: Meditation and Renewal Series. Thanks to our friends at Soma Spokane for this material!
A Basic Outline
Just the Beginning
Learning to meditate with the psalmist is a life-long process of learning. My hope for this study is not that you’ll get it all figured out but that you’ll begin to learn what it is like to experience renewal on a daily basis. I want this study to raise your hopes that you can know God more intimately and experience him more regularly. Without a doubt you’ll have seasons of life with Christ that are just dry – you don’t feel much of anything. In these seasons, we are reminded that we walk by faith and not by sight. But my hope is that you’ll begin to have more seasons of deep refreshment and renewal. This is promised to us in the word: “Repent therefore, and turn again, that your sins may be blotted out, that times of refreshing may come from the presence of the Lord” (Acts 3.19-20).
Here is the basic process you’ll go through each day. Below are the specific psalms we’ll be studying, and the daily steps spelled out in greater detail. The whole process can be done in less than 30 minutes, but can be done in 5 minutes or 5 hours if you like!
Step One – Prepare (2 minutes): You’ll want to begin by collecting your thoughts and directing your attention to the word. Pray for spiritual eyes to see, a humble heart to learn, and the Holy Spirit to be your teacher and guide.
Step Two – Read (10 minutes): Spend a few minutes reading the whole Psalm through, just reminding yourself of the whole context of the psalm. In addition, each day will have a shorter piece, just a few verses, to really focus in on. Read through the shorter section for the day a few times, slowly, paying close attention to each word, the repeated phrases, the interesting word pictures. Jot a few notes regarding what is written:
What is the author experiencing? How do you know?
What is the author communicating about who God is & what He’s done? How does he communicate it, and why does he communicate it that way?
Step Three – Meditate (10 minutes): This is where you begin to real “chew” on the truth that is revealed in the Scriptures. You want to move beyond Bible study to personal reflection and engagement. Pay attention to what you are seeing and discovering, and write stuff down. Here is a basic order to follow, but it doesn’t need to be extremely rigid. You may find yourself spending more time on one area than the other.
Adoration: What do I see that I can praise God for? Why should I love him?
Repentance: What wrong behavior & emotions result when I forget this? Gospel
Thanks: How does Jesus show this or give this blessing perfectly?
Aspiration: How would I be different if this truth were powerfully real to me?
Step Four – Pray (8 minutes or more): As you meditate, begin to turn your thoughts and reflections directly to Him. Adore him, praise him, repent before him, give thanks to him, and ask that he’d make this truth more real. This is meditation fueling your prayer life, where you are taking the truth and beauty that you see in the word and experience through the Holy Spirit and allowing it to motivate and move you to prayer, love, and good deeds. Just go with it!
At anytime you may enjoy a real sense of God’s presence on the heart – enjoy Him! This is his gift to you of himself, it is God drawing near and revealing himself to you. Relish in the gift of his presence, ask that others would know more of his presence, and commit yourself to walking throughout the day in his presence!
For each week, by Friday you’ll be ready to compose a short prayer that you can write out and carry with you. The goal is that you are not only taking time to meditate, regularly working the truth of these Psalms deep into your soul, but that you are also armed for the battle moment by moment. The daily study will help you tune your heart to God’s grace, and the short prayer will help you keep in tune throughout the day. As you think about what to write, try to summarize the theme of the Psalm in a few short sentences.